Harold Halse was born in Stratford, London, on 1st January 1886. He played local football for Leyton, Wanstead, Barking Town and Clapton Orient before signing for Southend United. Halse was a great success at his new club scoring 91 goals in 64 appearances.
In March 1908 Halse joined Manchester United for a fee of £350. This was the maximum fee allowed at the time. Manchester United started off the 1907-08 season with three straight wins. They were then beaten 2-1 by Middlesbrough. However, this was followed by another ten wins and United quickly built up a good advantage over the rest of the First Division. However, Liverpool beat United 7-4 on 25th March, 1908.
Three days later Halse made his debut against Sheffield Wednesday. Halse scored a goal in the club's 4-1 victory. Halse kept his place for the rest of the season scoring 4 goals in 6 games. Manchester United went on to win the title by nine points.
The following season Halse scored 14 goals in 29 league games. Manchester United enjoyed a good run in the FA Cup. They beat Brighton & Hove Albion (1-0), Everton (1-0), Blackburn Rovers (6-1), Burnley (3-2) and Newcastle United (1-0) to reach the final. Newcastle, who went onto win the league that season, was obviously disappointed by being prevented from winning the double. However, the whole of the Newcastle team waited for 15 minutes in torrential rain aboard an open coach so they could applaud their conquerors after the game.
Halse got four goals during the successful cup run that got them to the final at Crystal Palace against Bristol City. As both clubs usually wore red, Bristol played in blue whereas Manchester United played in white shirts with a deep red "V". The game was disappointing and Sandy Turnbull scored the only goal in the 22nd minute when he followed up a shot by Halse that hit the bar. In two seasons Halse helped United win both the league title and the FA Cup.
As Garth Dykes pointed out in The United Alphabet: "Small and rather slight of build, he would often score quite unexpectedly, from apparently impossible positions, shooting with supreme confidence in his own powers as a top opportunist marksmen."
Halse won his only international cap in June 1909 when he was selected to play for England against Austria. He scored two goals in England's 8-1 victory but surprisingly he never played for his country again.
1909-10 was a disappointing season for Halse. He only scored 6 goals in 27 games. In June 1910 Ernest Mangnall purchased Enoch West from Nottingham Forest. He replaced Jimmy Turnbull in the attack and had a great season scoring 19 goals in 35 games. West formed a great partnership with Sandy Turnbull and together they scored more than half of the team's goals. Halse scored 10 goals in 25 league and cup games. On the last Saturday of the season Aston Villa led Manchester United by one point. United had to play third-place Sunderland at Old Trafford whereas Villa had to go to Liverpool.
Manchester United won their game 5-1. Charlie Roberts told the Manchester Saturday Post what happened next: "At the end of the game our supporters rushed across the ground in front of the stand to wait for the final news from Liverpool. Suddenly a tremendous cheer rent the air and was renewed again and again and we knew we were the champions once again." Aston Villa had been beaten 3-1 and Manchester United had won their second championship in four years.
The following season Manchester United finished in only 13th position. The only success that year was a 8-4 victory over Swindon Town in the Charity Cup. Harold Halse scored six of United's goals. Billy Meredith told the Manchester Football Chronicle: "Nobody else could get a kick of the ball but Halse and every time he scored he said to the Swindon goalkeeper, I'll be back in a minute."
Halse scored 50 goals in 124 league and cup games for Manchester United. However, in July 1912 he was sold to Aston Villa for £1,200. In October of that year he scored five goals in succession against Derby County. He also helped Villa win the 1913 FA Cup Final and finishing as runners-up to Manchester United in the 1910-11 season. Halse scored 21 goals in 31 games before being sold to Chelsea.
Although his new club failed to be challengers for the league title in the 1913-14 and 1914-15 seasons, he did win a runner-up medal in the 1915 FA Cup Final. Halse therefore became the first man to reach three finals with three different clubs.
Harold Halse's football career was interrupted by the First World War. Only 28 at the time, he was 33 before the Football League began again in 1919. Halse joined Charlton Athletic in 1921. He had scored 23 goals in 96 games at Chelsea.
Halse retired from football in May 1923. He worked as a scout for Charlton Athletic for a couple of years before managing a tobacconist shop at Walton-on-Naze.
Harold Halse died in Essex County Hospital, Colchester on 25th March 1949.